The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, has said the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need for digitalization as a means to respond to the challenges posed by the pandemic.
He disclosed this during the virtual African Internet Governance Forum 2021, themed ‘Advancing digital transformation in Africa in the face of crisis’.
Speaking through a Director at the Nigerian Communications Commission, who also serves as his adviser on Technical Matters, Sahalu Junaidu, Pantami said the challenges the pandemic had brought to the fore had ensured there was an increase in the demand for Internet services.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the increased need to embrace digital culture. So, as Africans, one of the ways by which we can respond to the challenge thrown by the pandemic is to accelerate our digital transformation,” he said.
According to him, the digital transformation strategy for Africa should be established on key foundational pillars, which must include an enabling environment, policy regulation, digital infrastructure, digital skills and human capacity, as well as digital innovation and entrepreneurship.
Pantami added that critical sectors such as digital trade and financial services, digital government, digital education, digital health, and digital agriculture, are also underlining pillars of the transformation.
He said the drivers of digital transformation include digital content and applications, digital identification, emerging technology, cyber security, privacy and personal data protection, as well as research and development.
According to him, the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (2020-2030), and the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 are in place to address infrastructure challenges and enhance Nigeria’s migration to a more robust digital economy.
He said the recent successful auction of 3.5 gigahertz spectrum band for the deployment of the fifth generation network in the country would boost broadband penetration in the country.
The Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, who also spoke at the event, said, “The future is digital, and we should be committed to supporting and collaborating with African countries to maximise opportunities inherent in digital technologies.
“We should also be ready to avoid the pitfalls by instituting appropriate regulations as we are doing in NCC.”
Danbatta spoke through the Director, New Media and Information Security, NCC, Dr. Al-Hassan Haru.